Macedonia was overwhelmed and opened EURO 2016 qualifying with a convincing 5:1 defeat against Spain.
Macedonia proved to be the right remedy for Spain, who has struggled over the past couple of games, as the visitors were no match for the reigning EURO champions. Spain dominated throughout the game as their movement and passing proved too much for the Macedonian team.
Early on, Spain capitalized on the lack of speed by Macedonia’s defenders by playing through balls and keeping everything on the ground. They ran at players and the Macedonian defense had no chance in dealing with the dribbling skills and quickness of the Spanish attackers. Spain played with a sense of urgency and Tome Pachovski saved further humiliation. Without several of his nice saves, the scoreline would have been even worse.
Macedonia opened with a 3-4-3 formation that also worked as a 5:4:1 with the wing-backs tracking back. However, Stefan Ristovski and Ezgjan Alioski struggled defending on the wings and the three center-backs, all lacking speed, were no match for the shifty and quick attackers like Pedro, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and company.
The opening goal came in the 14th minute when Daniel Mojsov committed a foul inside the area. His Spanish marker used his quickness to turn from Mojsov who then stuck out his arm. The Spanish player fell and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Sergio Ramos converted the penalty with a cool chip to the back of the net. Three minutes later, it was 2:0 when Paco Alcácer scored an easy goal from close range. It was his first goal for the Spanish national team.
Midway through the opening half, Macedonia did seem to grow in confidence and Aleksandar Trajkovski won a penalty in the 27th minute when he was brought down inside the area. Agim Ibraimi took the penalty and managed to send his effort past Iker Casillas who dove the wrong way.
Spain, after that brief positive spell of Macedonia, once again took the initiative and dominated the rest of the 1st half. Tome Pachovski made two great saves in the 32nd and 45th minute to keep the score at 2:1, but Spain did grab its third goal in stoppage time. Sergio Busquets’s shot took a slight deflection off of Vanche Shikov before getting past the diving Pachovski.
In the 2nd half, Adis Jahovikj had a huge chance early in the 47th minute when he was one on one with Casillas, but he hesitated and then fired a weak shot that was easily saved by the Spanish keeper. Spain punished Macedonia for that miss by then notching a goal in the 50th minute. Manchester City’s David Silva slotted a left footed shot to the bottom right corner as Pachovski had no chance.
In the 58th minute, Cesc Fabregas hit the crossbar after a string of nice passes by Spain. The pace of the game then slowed down as Spain controlled possession, but they didn’t attack with the same ferocity. Macedonia did have a nice ten minute stretch from the 78th to 88th minute, but Iker Casillas made three good saves in that span to deny the visitors.
Spain put the finishing touches on their dominant display in the 90th minute when Pedro scored on a nice chip after a Macedonian player was dispossessed of the ball.
In summary, it was a nightmarish start for Macedonia in EURO 2016 qualifying. Spain pretty much did what it wanted and cruised to a fully deserving 5:1 victory. Macedonia must rebound from this loss and get ready for two qualifiers next month.
To view the match report, click here.
Other results in Group C (for standings, click here):
Ukraine – Slovakia 0:1
Luxembourg – Belarus 1:1